Book of June: The Giant’s Shower

In honor of the summer solstice, here’s a repost of a midsummer’s eve fairy tale I wrote years ago.

wondermyway

Since it’s June and Midsummer’s Eve occurs in June, I thought I’d post this fairy tale I wrote years ago.

fairy home-2

Book of June

Once upon a Midsummer’s Eve, on Sabattus Mountain, a group of fairies gathered in a circle for a night of magic and merriment. All wore crowns of wood sorrel and ferns about their heads. Their sparkly skirts matched the color of their hair, purple and green and yellow and orange and blue. Together they danced and sang this tune:

We whirl and twirl and dance around,                                                                                                     Our feet, they barely touch the ground.        …

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Noyes Mountain Mondate

Yesterday was Father’s Day and so I asked the question first, “Where are we hiking tomorrow?” My intention was that it would be a gift for him to choose. But only moments later I announced that I had a suggestion–he didn’t have to accept it, of course.

I’d learned that the Western Maine Foothills Land Trust had cut a trail at the Noyes Mountain Preserve in preparation for their 30th Anniversary in July. And since one of our recent Maine Master Naturalist grads, Kelly Hodgkins, now works for the land trust and used this mountain for her capstone project, I wanted to visit it.

So much for letting my guy choose. But he appreciated the thought and agreed on our destination. And so mid-morning today, we drove to Greenwood–the birthplace of LL Bean. We honored him well for our hiking pants, boots and bag were all Bean products.

Kelly had told me to follow Richardson Hollow Road for 1.5 miles and then to look for a small parking lot on the left. We located it easily, but parked on the road instead because a few vehicles were in the spot. Apparently we weren’t the only ones eager to make the climb despite the mugginess of the day. We actually met the parties as we headed up and they descended. People and dogs–all sporting smiles.

n-field

A mowed path crossed the field where daisies and buttercups and hawkweed grew among the grasses. We began to develop a sense of the land’s former use, especially as we spied stonewalls through the trees.

n-trail flags

And then we moved into a hardwood forest and the upward climb began. Kelly had warned me that the trail was rough cut, but flagged. And a gentleman on the way down said they’d gotten off track for a bit when they didn’t make a turn because they were looking down and missed the flagging. Thanks to that word of caution, we made sure to always look for the next piece of tape and had nary an issue.

n-striped maple samaras

I looked down as well. That’s where I saw striped maple samaras maturing as they rested upon a leaf,

n-narrow beech fern

a narrow beech fern arched over the ground, with its lowest pinnae unconnected by wings as those above it and drooping downward,

n-common fleabane 2

and common fleabane sending forth cheerful rays of lavender from its composite disk.

n-American toad

I was actually surprised to only meet one young American toad as it seemed a place where the ground should have been hopping with many more.

n-red-belted polypore on red pine

On a red pine snag a red-belted polypore looked a bit old and tired.

n-ledge on trail

And then suddenly, the community changed and we faced a moss-covered ledge where the trail turned to the left.

n-lady's slipper

When the trail widened a bit, we noticed a frame and realized it was meant to protect the lady’s slipper within. And so we bowed and curtseyed in her honor.

n-lady's slipper spider

That’s when we realized we weren’t the only ones paying attention–perhaps the spider wanted to see if the slipper fit.

n-northern crane's-bill 2

Again, we continued to climb, but noted that the community changed again and we were in the land of evergreens and blueberries as we reached for the summit. A flower I wasn’t familiar with kept asking to be noticed–and so I did and later keyed it out to be a northern crane’s-bill.

Then we saw a path not cleared, but with a tag wrapped around a tree limb. And another beyond that. Should we follow it? It looked like it led to the ledges that were supposed to offer a view. We decided to stay on the trail with dangling tape, though as it dipped downward and to the right we questioned our decision–until it swung around to the left and we realized we were possibly looping around. We hoped.

n-lady corporal dragonfly

It was along that section that the corporals joined us, in this case the browner version, which is a female.

n-American emerald 2

And an American emerald dragonfly, with its metallic green eyes and a narrow yellow ring around the base of its abdomen, took time out from hunting duties to pose. Speaking of dragonflies, while we celebrated their presence, we also noted that there were no mosquitoes. A few deer flies sang in our ears. Was it the wind that kept the mosquitoes away? There were certainly wet spots here and there on the mountain.

n-honeysuckle fruit

Our wonders continued with the red fruit of swamp-fly honeysuckle and . . .

n-twinflowers

a sweet patch of twinflowers.

n-my guy at the ledge

And then, about an hour after we’d started, we stepped into a small clearing with a view. Well, you know who got there first and was waiting when I arrived.

n-ledge view

While he looked at Norway Lake (Lake Penneseewassee), I looked around at the plants that grew there as more dragonflies darted about.

n-staghorn sumac

The summit offerings included staghorn sumac and . . .

n-pink corydalis

pink corydalis, plus yellow hawkweed, yarrow and others I can’t remember now.

n-trail to quarry

When we were ready to leave, we noticed more orange flagging and another trail leading down. So . . . we followed it.

n-climbing down to quarry

We could see the ledge above, but weren’t sure what was in store for us next.

n-climing lower to quarry

The rock face was steep and had a certain look to it, as if it had been worked.

n-mountain crane's-bill

Rounding the final corner, we both knew what to expect, but first, another flower. There were many flowers on that spur trail and I knew I had to save them for another day. But this one stood out against the rock face and strongly resembled the northern crane’s-bill I’d spied occasionally on the way up. If my ID is correct, this species is a mountain crane’s-bill.

n-quarry wall

And we were in the Harvard Quarry. According the Western Foothills Land Trust page about the preserve, “Historically the land, which is in Greenwood, was owned by the Stevens family and included a through road north to from Norway to Greenwood (from the Upton Brothers Road to the Hayes Road). In 1869 Ethel Stevens sold the land to Isaac Noyes.

Isaac Noyes became interested in the site’s pegmatitic outcroppings in the late 1880′s. In 1892 the ledge was opened for the first time and became a mecca for scientists and collectors alike, offering one of the most complex mineralized pegmatites in Maine. Mineral operations on the mountain were opened by Isaac’s 6th cousin George Lorenzo (“Shavey”) Noyes and Tim Heath about 1894. Tourmaline was first recorded from the locale about 1904 and over the years the green color found at this location has become known as “Harvard Green.”

The granite pegmatites Noyes collected were largely preserved and passed into the possession of the Harvard Museum, together with the lease of the property, in 1917. In the summer of 1923 active quarrying was undertaken by the Harvard Mineralogical Department under the supervision of Harvard University student Kenneth K. Landes for Landes’ dissertation, Paragenesis of the Granitic Pegmatites of Central Maine (American Mineralogist, 1925, v. 10, p. 355-411). Loren B. Merrill of Paris and Arthur Valley undertook most of the actual excavation for Landes at the site.

Currently Frank Perham owns the 1-acre Harvard quarry, which remains open to the public in addition to mineral rights on 60 acres.”

The site is also mentioned in A Collector’s Guide to Maine Mineral Localities.

n-dyamite box from mining history

It all began to make sense for toward the beginning of the spur we saw a steel box in the woods–perhaps it once held dynamite for the mining operation. And within the quarry were old tires and hoses. All relics that I hope will remain for they tell the story.

n-rock face

And on the rock face, I saw a face of one who will watch over all to make sure those relics never leave. (Unless the land trust thinks otherwise, that is.) Do you see it? There’s an eye with eye lashes, a bulbous nose and an angular chin.

We didn’t stay long because thunder rumbled and we knew strong winds and rain were in the forecast.

As we skidaddled down the mountain, we gave thanks to Kelly for sharing the location with us and for the future programs she’ll plan so others may appreciate this place. And we were grateful to the land trust for working hard to protect the land for now and ever.

Our Mondate on Noyes Mountain came to an end as raindrops the size of lady’s slippers splatted against our windshield. We left, however, knowing this place is well worth a return visit–probably more than one.

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on the Brownfield Bog

When I drove to the Brownfield Bog, aka Major Gregory Sanborn Wildlife Management Area, this afternoon, my intention was to pay attention to the shrubs that grow there.

b-black swallowtail

But, as usual, the distractions were many and a black swallowtail landed as I stepped out of my truck.

b-ant on alder aphid

I did note a tremendous amount of wooly alder aphids coating the alder stems everywhere I walked. In fact, I’ve never seen so much fluff. And I found only one ant eager to milk the sweet honeydew produced by the aphids as they sucked the shrubs sap. Once in a while the white fluff danced in the breeze. Was it an aphid on the fly?

b-willow flowers

Or did it come from the willows that were in the process of sending their seeds forth into the future?

b-Northern Arrowwood

So you see, I was paying attention to the shrubs, especially those in flower like the Northern Arrowwood. There was another with a similar flowerhead, but different leaves and I need to return and spend more time studying it.

b-Pleasant Mountain 2

Because I was in the bog, I did pause occasionally to peer across its advance, usually with a view of my favorite mountain (Pleasant Mountain) providing the background.

b-chalk-fronted corporal 1

But the dragonflies live there. And the chalk-fronted corporals became my BFF, since as many as twenty lifted off with each step I took. They led me all the way down the trail and all the way back, usually a few feet in front.

b-dot-tailed white face 1

The corporals weren’t the only dragons of choice.

b-dot-spotted white face 2

Dot-tailed white face dragonflies were happy to pose.

b-calico pennant 1

And I even found a few calico pennants–happy to make their acquaintance again.

b-white gall on maleberry 2

Between dragon and damselfly opportunities, white globs and . . .

b-maleberry gall?1

green caught my attention. They were the size of apples and totally new to me. My thought right now is that they are galls, similar to the azalea gall, but these were on maleberry shrubs. If you know otherwise, I welcome your information.

b-bog view

The bog was swollen with water only a few weeks ago, but that story line has passed and life sprang from the spring like a fountain of youth.

b-damsel love 1

My noticing continued when I spied a couple of youthful damselflies . . .

b-damsel love 2

he’d attached himself below her . . .

b-damsel love 3

and ever so slowly advanced . . .

b-damsel love 4

until the circle of love was complete.

b-lady beetles canoodling

Canoodling of all kinds occurred.

b-dragonflies canoodling 2

Even the dragonflies tried to get in on the action.

b-dragonflies canoodling

She wasn’t very tolerant, however, and a couple of seconds later detached herself from her forward position and took off.

b-sedge sprite 1

I moved on, looking here and there and thrilling at the sight of the beautiful and iridescent sedge sprite damselfly.

b-river jewelwing

Following the trail to the Saco River, I found tracks galore in the muck below, and a river jewelwing–appropriately named.

b-Canada geese

As I headed out, I startled a Canada goose family that had been feeding along the edge.

b-ring necked and mountain

And then I paused for one last look at the bog and Pleasant Mountain.

b-ring-necked duck

That’s when I realized I was in the presence of a male ring-necked duck. If you like to bird, this is the place. I saw several but heard so many more. And even if I couldn’t apply a name to a song, I did enjoy the symphony that followed me throughout my adventure.

b-Kathy's bog sign

Though I said I went to look at the shrubs because I do want to learn them, my real reason for going was to see this new installment.

b-Kathy's sign up close

Maine Master Naturalist (and potter) Kathy McGreavy created this handmade and painted map of the bog for her capstone project. Her husband recently installed it and it’s a work of art worth looking at not only to appreciate Kathy’s talent, but also to learn more about the bog and those that call it home.

My hope is that the spotlight will continue to shine brightly on Kathy’s creation . . . made with love in honor of her bog.

The Magic of Maine

Our group was small but our experience enormous as five Maine Master Naturalists met in China, Maine, this morning to participate in a workshop about experiential learning presented by one of our own–the teacher of teachers, Anita Smith.

c-osprey 1

Upon arrival at the China School Forest where we met up, our nature distraction disorder (NDD) immediately kicked in for there was an osprey nest on a light post overlooking the ballfield between the middle and primary schools. The forest is a 50-acre tract behind the primary school that serves as a hands-on, outdoor classroom for grades K-8 and all of us really, for it is open to the public.

c-green heron 1

And then our attention was directed to the fire pond, where a stocky green heron displayed its streaked chest and dagger-like bill.

c-green heron crest

We watched him work the edge and loved when he showed off his crest–adding to our agreement about his ID.

c-trail map

At last, we pulled ourselves away and let Anita begin, starting with an overview of the forest’s history and a look at the map posted on the kiosk.

c-yellow rattle 1

We headed off down the trail to a pavilion, but again were easily distracted. This was a plant I didn’t recall meeting previously, but its bladders and yellow faces reminded me of  fish faces. Karen later ID it as yellow rattle for when the seeds form in the bladders later in the season, they rattle.

c-lady's galore

At last we arrived at the pavilion (only a few minutes walk down the trail if one wears blinders) where Anita had us help set up a work station and explained how she has students help cart the supplies. We started to help her, but within seconds Sally spotted the lady’s slippers and again we were distracted.

c-lady's by the dozens

They were so plentiful that we couldn’t resist admiring them.

c-pink lady's slipper

Most were princess pink.

c-white lady's slipper

But a few were pure white (not rare, just a form of the pink, but still . . . ).

c-lady's slipper pod

And even others spoke of transformation, with last year’s pods still standing.

c-nature journal

Again, she pulled us back to the subject of the day. Because we were there to learn about activities we might use in our work with children of all ages, Anita had us create our own nature journals. Stamps and markers and pipe cleaners and solar beads and fabric and we were happy campers–each expressing our own creativity in designing the covers.

c-phoebe babes1

While we worked, baby phoebes watched from above.

c-damselfly nymph1

Our next stop was the wildlife pond and bridge, where we did some pond dipping and were thrilled with our many findings, like damselfly larvae and tadpoles,

c-caddisfly larva and salamander

damselfly and salamander larvae,

c-water scavenger beetle larva and salamander larva

and water scavenger beetle larvae beside a salamander. There was so much more and we again had a difficult time pulling ourselves away.

c-examining aquatic species

It was the water scavenger beetle larvae that stumped us most, but we had fun identifying as many species as we could and were wowed by the variety available.

c-bird nest

Leave we did at last–only first we checked out a nest Sally had discovered. While it sat upon balsam fir branches, we thought it had fallen from above. And marveled at its construction–balsam fir twigs, fruticose lichen and balsam fir needles, all in their own layers.

c-twin flower

There were other things to see before we moved on, like the delicate twinflowers that bloomed.

c-pondweed and raindrops

An artistic display of pondweed.

c-fragrant water lily

And spadderdock,

c-fragrant water lily 2

whose flower reminded me of the inner formation of pitcher plant flowers.

c-Anita reading to us

At last, lunch time arrived. And so we returned to the pavilion where Anita shared some of her favorite books. And then she read to us All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan–warning us first that she would cry when she got to the end. Indeed she did, but we were touched for we got it.

c-board feet

After lunch, she took us on a tour to visit some of the seventeen learning stations, including the forest measurements station, where students learn about common measurements related to the forest and wood product industry, including board feet for dimensional lumber.

c-reading tree

Every time I visit the China School Forest, I’m in awe. And today, I knew others, like Kathy and Cathy, felt the same. The forest was full of diverse species and twenty years ago the Town of China and folks like Anita turned it into an incredible space for children and the child in all of us to learn. My favorite spot of all has been “the reading tree” built around a weeviled white pine. Even those in wheelchairs may access it and find a spot to read or watch or listen. After we climbed up, we climbed down, and Anita led us through several fun activities, the last ending with M&Ms. What’s not to love about a seminar that ends with chocolate?

c-Eastern forktail damselfly

On our walk back, our NDD was ever on alert. And so we’d not seen too many dragon or damselflies in the morning, perhaps given the cooler temp. But on our way out, an Eastern forktail damselfly drew our admiration for its green, black and blue coloration.

c-bridge classroom

We were beside the man-made pond when we saw it, where the bridge crosses and where we’d earlier done some pond dipping to observe the aquatic insects. It’s there that a bench sits in the midst of an outdoor classroom.

c-dedicated to Anita Smith

That very bench had been dedicated to our Anita.

c-baby robin 2

Back at the pavilion, we gathered all our gear and then followed the trail out. And that’s when Kathy called from ahead, telling us to watch our step. A baby robin sat on the path. We heard a parent nearby.

And wondered in the magic of the day. Another magical day in Maine.

 

 

 

 

Keeping an Eye on Long Meadow Brook

My intention yesterday afternoon was to focus on the plants and trees at the Greater Lovell Land Trust’s newest reserve, Long Meadow Brook. But I also wanted to check out the new parking area created as part of an Eagle Scout project by Bridgton’s Troop 149.

l-parking lot 2

While the logging road cut by the previous owner to the landing during a 2014 thinning was untouched for the creation of the parking area, some of the log landing (staging area to remove logs from the site) was used to create a smooth space for vehicles. Kudos to the Scouts and other volunteers for building the lot.

l-kiosk 2

To the left of the parking area stands a kiosk. If you go, please note that the trail was first tagged last summer and though trail work was done this week, it’s brand new and not yet well tramped.

l-sloppy trail marker

Your best bet is to keep an eye on the trail signs. Most are blue circles painted on a white background and nailed to the trees. But . . . at least one offered a more creative take as it appeared someone was thinking outside the lines. 😉

l-coltsfoot

So yes, I went to make an initial inventory and began on the driveway to the parking lot, where the blossoms of coltsfoot have now turned to seed. Remains of the former flower continued to exist among the white fluff of the seeds’ parachutes.

l-dandelion seed head

In the same place grew dandelions, providing a comparison as their seed heads were fancier in form.

l-common mullein rosette

It was on the driveway also, that common mullein showed off its soft leaves as it grew among the equisetum or horsetail.

l-common mullein

One in particular was ready to spring forth with new life.

l-common mullein--cacti

Though there were examples of last year’s mullein flowers along the driveway, it was on the trail that I spied a group of them, looking much like the cacti of the north.

l-equisetum 1

There were other look alikes to note–this being a woodland horsetail that can be mistaken for a pine sapling.

l-pine sapling

Both have whorled branching, but pine featured packets of five straight needles , while the horsetail branches were divided and dangling.

l-spittlebug

A spittlebug larva took advantage of one pine sapling and covered itself with froth to keep predators away.

l-pine grove 1

White pine saplings are numerous on this 98-acre property, where the former owner left many older pines that create a cathedral-like space.

l-pitch pine

One of my favorite species were the pitch pines, though this one appeared to have been used perhaps as a turning tree, with its bark on one side scraped off.

l-common speedwell

At my feet, I also found common speedwell,

l-cinquefoil 1

common cinquefoil,

l-pipsissewa

and pipsissewa–though not common, not un-common either.

l-wintergreen sporting new growth

There was wintergreen showing off its new growth with tiny blossoms forming between light green leaves,

l-red trillium

and a red trillium, its flower passed by and fruit production in the works.

l-lowbush blueberries

Speaking of fruit, lowbush blueberries were loaded with future treats.

l-Indian Cucumber Root

And then there were those species that feature other-worldy presentations such as the Indian cucumber root.

l-greater bladder sedge

Likewise, the great bladder sedge with its fruit sacs pointed up and out.

l-wood fern with sori

A variety of ferns grow there, including wood ferns with sori maturing on the underside of the blades.

l-striped maple leaf

I found a small striped maple with leaves as big as a dinner plate.

l-maple-leaved viburnum

And multiple maple-leaved viburnums in flower, this one with . . .

l-beetles canoodling on maple-leaved viburnum-2

beetles canoodling. 😉

l-oak apple gall

Because I was looking down so much, and no walk is compete without such a find, I saw an oak apple gall.

l-snowshoe hare scat 2

And similar in shape for its round form, snowshoe hare scat.

l-bench view

On the preserve are two small clearcuts. A bench has been installed at the two-acre lot.

l-wildlife blind

This is also the spot where a wildlife blind provides its own point of view.

l-field view

The six-acre opening faces the Baldface Mountains to the west.

l-Long Meadow

But my favorite view was at the old beaver dam, where Long Meadow Brook passes through. I wanted to spend more time there because there was much to see and ID, but the mosquitoes thought I was sweet.

l-chalk-fronted corporal

Fortunately, there were plenty of dragonflies, such as this chalk-fronted corporal, who thought the mosquitoes were sweet.

l-chalk-fronted female

That’s not all chalk-fronted liked, for this was his female counterpart.

l-lancet clubtail 1

Long Meadow Brook is the perfect place to meet some dragonflies, including the lancet club tail with yellow daggers running down the back of its abdomen.

l-eye to eye with dragonfly--white-face?

And a white face-so named for the whitish face below the bulging eyes.

l-stream cruiser

Hanging vertically as was its custom, a stream cruiser.

l-familiar bluet

Damselflies, too, flew about, including familiar bluets.

l-sedge sprite

But it was the metallic green of the sedge sprite that wowed me.

l-calico dragonfly 1

And when I thought I’d seen all that the land had to offer, I suddenly found myself in the place of the calico pennants.

l-calico 3

Its their wings that amazed me the most and made me think of stained glass windows.

l-calico 2

I happened upon them just before I passed back through the cathedral in the pines, as seems apropos.

While they focused on the abundant prey and each other to do their own canoodling (my guy and I heard that term mentioned recently and it made us chuckle), I had to finally pull my attention away. But . . . I’ll be keeping my eye on Long Meadow Brook Reserve. With pleasure.

 

 

Ain’t Lovell A Great Place To Be?

On my way to meet a few docents and the new interns for the Greater Lovell Land Trust this morning, a photo opp presented itself and I was forced to stop.

h-stan's sign

Stan Tupaj of Kezar Realty strikes me as the town cheerleader and I love to read his sign as I pass by. From time to time I’ve meant to photograph it, but somehow always seem to be in a rush to get to the next destination. But this morning I was a wee bit early and so this was the day.

h-heald sign

From there, I drove on to the Fairburn parking lot on Slab City Road where I planned to meet the crew.

h-green frog

Our goal was to walk to Otter Rock, not a far walk by any means, but it took us 1.5 hours to get there, such were the sights along the way, including a few green frogs in puddles along the trail. I know he’s a green frog and not a bull frog because he showed off a dorsal lateral fold along the sides of his back.

h-baby toad

While the green frogs were beside or in the water, the ground seemed to hop at our feet in dry places thanks to a kazillion baby American toads on the move.

h-Ellie and the baby toad

I noted that it seems the younger toads are in constant motion, while older and much chunkier ones pause and try to blend into their surroundings, allowing us to study them (and take photos–just saying). One of the younger members of our team, Ellie, proved me wrong as she charmed a young toad to stay still while she looked at it through her hand lens for several moments. It wasn’t until Ellie moved that the toad hopped away.

h-damselfly with eggs

While Ellie was the toad whisperer, her older brother Caleb wowed us with his ability to capture dragonflies and damselflies in a net, such as this one. As he held it high, he realized it was a she for there were eggs on her abdomen and so he gently released her–in hopes she’d find some vegetation on which to inject those tiny sacs.

h-keeping mosquitoes at bay

Their youngest brother, Wes, demonstrated the value of bracken ferns–which served as a fun hat to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

h1-Aidan

And it wasn’t until later that I realized I didn’t have a photo of Ellie’s other brother, Aidan, but I knew of one from a prior insect walk that showed his own curiosity.

h-grape fern

We looked at tons of plants as well and were all especially eager to re-greet the grape ferns that we knew grew there.

h-exoskeletons 2

At last we reached our destination, Otter Rock on Heald Pond, where we found what we had hoped for: exoskeletons decorated the landscape.

h-exoskeltons on shrub

Dragonflies lay egg clusters into sediments or tap small clumps directly onto the water’s surface. Each egg hatches into a small nymph, which grows until its ready to emerge as a flying adult. At that time, the nymph crawls to the surface, and ever so slowly, the adult pulls itself free of the exoskeleton. It’s the most amazing process to watch. But even if you don’t have that opportunity, just seeing the left over nymphal shells and knowing that the magic happened is worth a wonder.

h-exoskeletons on ground

We had to watch where we stepped, for the exoskeletons not only decorated the shrubs, but also the ground . . .

h-exoskeleton on tree

and even the trees.

h-widow skimmer

And then we began to notice newly emerged dragonflies like the widow maker on Otter Rock,

h-black-shouldered spinyleg

and black-shouldered spinyleg on the ground. We were afraid to step for everywhere our eyes focused, there was either an exoskeleton or a dragonfly drying its wings in preparation for a first flight.

h-chalk 5

As we looked about, Caleb spotted one struggling in the water, so he pulled it out.

h-chalk 4

Coated in a bit of pollen from the pond, it still clung to its exoskeleton.

h-chalk-fronted corporal 1

We watched for a few moments as it moved about, those wings slowly drying. I think my ID is right and this was a chalk-fronted corporal. At last it was time for us to draw our sense of wonder to a close and make our journey out.

h-meet the interns

But first, I asked our interns to pose–meet Hannah, Kelly and Dakota. Today was their first day of work and we probably overwhelmed the two guys a bit. Hannah was with us last year, so she knows our ways–that we walk slowly and look at everything. She gets it and we love that. We’re excited about the possibilities ahead. Join us for a GLLT walk or come to an evening talk and you’ll get to meet them.

h-heading out

Our walk out was much quicker, though we still stopped occasionally.

h-stan's sign

In the end, I have no doubt that we knew the answer to Stan’s question: Lovell IS a great place to be.

 

 

 

The Mighty Tracker

“Quick, look at the bird feeder,” my guy said this morning.

I expected some exotic bird and chuckled to myself, a memory of our youngest son telling me about the huge gray bird with a black head and long, long tail that it was in the driveway last week. I showed him a picture of a catbird. Bingo.

So when I did look out the kitchen window, I was taken aback–a large black bear stood at the feeder. I know I should have taken it in a month ago, but took my chances. And then I ran for my camera, not remembering that I’d left it on the counter right next to where I’d been standing. Finally, camera in hand, I dashed out the back door.  And . . .

b-bear !

he’d moved on. At the stonewall, he gave me one backward glance before climbing over it. Consequently, the bear is in this photo on the other side of the wall, but I was so excited I forgot to focus it and my guy and I will be the only ones that truly know it.

b-boots

But, I love to track mammals and so this afternoon I donned my tracking uniform and headed off on the trail to see what I might see.

b-bird feeder

I began at the spot of our first sighting–the bird feeder by the garden.

b-bear impression

All that my closer examination revealed was a few stomped leaves. No hair. Nothing else.

b-stonewall

From there, I kept examining the grass on my way to the stone wall. And then the wall itself and the trees around it. Nada.

b-tree stump

Stepping over the wall, I tried to determine the bear’s next direction. Still nothing to see. And so I started checking the numerous tree stumps, figuring it was hungry and might have looked for ants or other insects. All the disturbance I saw was made prior to this morning.

b-hemlock cones

My next decision was to follow the cowpath east and then west, but still nothing to report. I did notice the baby hemlock cones showing off their aquamarine color.

p-gray squirrel

As I walked, I heard some commotion. Did you know that gray squirrels can make more noise than a black bear?

b-deer prints

When I got to the the ruts in the snowmobile trail, I thought I might finally find what I was looking for. Instead, I spotted plenty of deer prints and  . . .

b-squirrel prints

even those made by the squirrels.

b-wood frogs 1

Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to stop by the vernal pool, thinking perhaps the bear had done the same.

b-wood frog 2:gills

Nothing looked disturbed and the tadpoles showed off their latest growth. This might be the year wood frogs finally hop out of the pool.

b-blue-eyed grass

Not far from the pool, I discovered the first blue-eyed grass of the season.

b-turkey track

And as I returned, I went a bit beyond the cowpath and found turkey prints.

b-turkey and fox prints

There were some coyote prints as well, but one of my favorite print sightings was that of the turkey headed north and fox headed south. The fox print shows where the front foot came down and the hind foot fell almost directly into the same spot thus looking like two sets of front toes and nails pointed inward–direct registration.

Phew, I am the mighty tracker after all.

But that bear–it eluded me. It’s one for our mind’s eye as a memory shared and there it shall remain.